Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"We'll Never Let You Retire!"

A little more than a month from now, we'll say goodbye to Karen Peterson, OHSU's archivist for 15 years. Preparing for Karen's retirement was a major undertaking for HC&A. Karen was our first professional archivist, and had a trove of historical and institutional knowledge in her head. It was terrifying to think that all of it could walk out the door with her on her last day of work!

If we were to have a successful archives program in the future, we had to have a strategy for sharing and documenting the important things that only Karen knew. That effort is now the topic of an article in a new book on archives management!

Anderson, Maija. “’We’ll Never Let You Retire!’: Creating a Culture of Knowledge Transfer.” In Management:Innovative Practices in Archives and Special Collections, edited by Kate Theimer. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, May 2014. 

The chapter is a case study of HC&A's preparations for Karen's retirement, which will conclude successfully as we bring our next archivist, Max Johnson, into the position. Effective knowledge transfer required not only Karen's full participation, but involvement from everyone in HC&A, and many staff across the library. We hope that what we learned will be useful to other archives planning similar transitions.